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Pathways: Ongoing Thesis Work

Zach Bachiri is an interaction designer on a mission to create social change through design and technology.

Pathways: Thesis Work


Context

Master of Design Thesis

Team Members

Individual Project

Tools

Sketch, Principle, After Effects, Design Research Methods

 
 

For my Master of Design thesis at Carnegie Mellon I’m investigating the relationship between the tech industry and the communities around them. While underserved communities of color are being pushed out of urban centers by rising costs of living, tech firms are moving in. As a result, these two communities may find themselves in close physical proximity, while socially, culturally, and economically separated. Despite this proximity, the tech industry lacks diversity in its workforce. Though Black and Latinx Americans make up ~28% of the US workforce, they only make up ~15% of the high tech workforce. And among top tech firms the numbers are much lower (4% at Google, 4% at Facebook, 5.6% at Uber, 6.1% at Amazon).

Given that exposure to an industry throughout childhood increases the likelihood of one entering that industry, forming a positive relationship between the tech industry and high school students in underserved communities of color has the potential to create valuable career opportunities for students, while also beginning to address the lack of diversity in the industry and driving innovation.

 
 

Pathways Concept Video

 

Process

I’ve conducted robust literature review, case studies, exploratory research, and generative research in order to better understand the problem space and co-create a design solution.

 
 

Exploration First

A key component of early career development is the space for low pressure, open ended exploration of topics. This exploration allows one to look both inward and outward - inward in evaluating one’s own interests and proficiencies and outward in expanding the universe of possible career paths. Given the current lack of industry awareness amongst high school students, it will be key to start with exploration.

Turn Allies To Activists

Many tech workers are aware not only of the diversity problems facing the industry, but larger social issues of equity and representation. While this awareness makes employees strong allies in the quest for diversity, largely, they are not currently taking personal action due to a perceived barrier of entry. If able to create a system that lowers that barrier, there will be a wellspring of workers willing to help.

Connection, Not Transaction

Fundamental to the mentor/mentee relationship is a personal, human connection. Tech workers are energized by the prospect of sharing stories and lived experience with their mentee. This human connection overshadows the transactional nature of career-based mentorship. Building a platform that allows for this connection is a necessary first step before approaching issues of career planning and skill building.

 
 

Pathways

I am in the process of designing Pathways, a digital-first mentorship program that makes it easy for tech workers to engage in mentorship and provides the resources and support for students of color to explore careers in tech. A digital mentorship platform makes it easy to engage in meaningful, humanistic mentorship, and a network of Pathways communities centers provide the tools, support, and dialogue to support that process.

 

mentee platform

weekly checkin

goals + tasks

make-days

 

monthly video call

mentor platform

mentorship resources

mentorship resources

community center

community center

 
Pathways content outline

Pathways content outline